Category Archives: Tom Perrotta

Links: From a Flask With Unknown Contents

Whiting Award winner Adam Johnson says the aspiring writers in his classes these days are being a little too cute with the subtleties. “‘What happened? What was it about?’ he asks his students. ‘I didn’t want to hit you over the head with it,’ they reply. ‘Hit me over the head with what?'”

Lizzie Skurnick on a star-studded event honoring Judy Blume: “Her controversy wasn’t based on her attention to the illicit. It was based on her attention to the ordinary.”

Tom Perrotta figures people don’t cheat on their spouses nearly as much as novelists suggest they do.

A comprehensive collection of Ernest Hemingway‘s letters is nearing completion.

Cormac McCarthy has signed a few copies of The Road, and no, you can’t have them.

The Idaho Review, which has published a host of major authors from the West, celebrates its tenth anniversary with a 296-page issue. (via New West)

William Faulkner‘s old residence in New Orleans is holding up well, post-Katrina.

Shanthi Sekaran: “When an Indian American writer portrays India, a reader will already have seen five other portrayals in other books and inject what they’ve seen before…. That leads readers to overlook other aspects of an immigrant experience.”

The owners of Chicago bookstore Women and Children First aren’t buying the statement that there are as many as 30 feminist bookstores in the country.

Daniel Alarcon on Americans’ disinterest in reading works in translation: “There’s a certain curiosity about the world that’s not matched by a willingness to do the work…. So what happens is that writers of foreign extraction end up writing about the world for Americans.” (via Bookslut)

A great wide-ranging interview in the Morning News with Tobias Wolff about writing programs, the state of short fiction, the novel he’s working on, the Richard Price novel he’s reading, and more.

Dear Stanford Daily: Here’s the thing. If an anonymous student tells you that Wolff regularly takes swigs “from a flask with unknown contents” in class, it’s pretty much imperative upon you to ring him up for a comment. Then he could tell you whether what’s in the flask is innocuous or not, avoiding any need for golly-who-knows-what-he’s-drinking weasel-wording. Regardless, you’re bound to get a story out of it, and telling stories is something he’s pretty good at. Give it a try.

Links: Ain’t That America

The Nobel Prize’s literature judge says that American writers are too “insular.” But what does some dumb foreigner know?

Hubris alert: Big-name venture capitalist Tom Perkins has built a 289-foot yacht called The Maltese Falcon.

In related news, Tom Perrotta dreams of being Sam Spade: “Who wouldn’t want to be a tough-talking private eye?”

Olsson’s, the leading independent bookstore chain in the Washington, D.C. area, closed all five of its stores yesterday after filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. A memorial page is up and running.

Junot Diaz is deeply impressed with Richard Price‘s handball skills.

Nicholas Sparks is just pretty darned pleased with everything.

Tom Perrotta’s Good Timing

If your schedule is free on Sept. 23 and you happen to be in Hartford, Conn., it’d only make sense to attend the fundraiser to help save the Mark Twain House. There’s a pretty good lineup of readers and speakers: The event is led by Jon Clinch, author of Finn (reviewed here), and he’s joined by Stewart O’Nan, Arthur Phillips, Tom Perrotta, and more.

Perrotta, plugging the event in the Boston Globe, figures this week’s political foofaraw over teen pregnancy might help the paperback release of his most recent novel, The Abstinence Teacher (reviewed here). “Everyone’s talking about abstinence,” he says. “It’s like free advertising.” Maybe so: As of this writing the book is #14 on Amazon’s bargain-books list.

Scattered Glass

Polly Morrice writes in the New York Times about the literary inheritors to J.D. Salinger‘s Glass children. I was hoping for more examples than the three she presents–Kate Walbert‘s story “Playdate,” Charles Bock‘s Beautiful Children, and Tom Perrotta‘s Little Children. (And I’m kinda calling shenanigans on that last one–Perrotta’s tykes are bright, but too young to be legitimate inheritors of the Glassian quiz-kid type, and the notion that the kids in the novel are “near-magical” doesn’t mean they’re especially interesting in any Salinger-esque way. Just that they play the role of moral polestars in the plot.)  Who else is there? I don’t think the world is hurting for more examples of precocious, smart kids, but there have got to be more than Morrice suggests.

Sunday Miscellany

Charles McGrath profiles Charles Bock, debut author of the Vegas-set novel Beautiful Children, in the New York Times Magazine.

The London Guardian reviews Peter Ackroyd‘s new biography of Edgar Allan Poe.

Tom Perrotta, whose most recent novel, The Abstinence Teacher, transcends its occasional script-treatment feel, is interviewed by Financial Times. (The book has just come out in the U.K., with a better cover.) I suspect there’s a connection between his answer to question about the last book he couldn’t finish (Tree of Smoke) and the question about what makes him cross to read (“Novels longer than 500 pages that are more about style than substance.”)